While kids can make us laugh by saying the darndest things, a disturbing video of a cursing toddler went viral this week, placing a teenage mother in hot water for what may have been a teenage prank by a guest in her home.
If there is a moral to this story it’s, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
The child’s 16-year-old mother came forward on TV to explain that a friend of her teenage brother made the video while she was in another room and unaware of the activities, CNN reports.
Of her child, she says, “He's a smart little boy. All that cussing that he did, he doesn't do that. Somebody told him to do that. My son doesn't do that. I don't allow it."
The young mother added, "Everybody that thinks I'm a bad mother, I'm not. I'm a good mother to my son. I teach him a lot. He's very smart."
There is a lot more to this story involving ongoing gang violence in the Omaha, Neb., suburb and other family issues that, coupled with the cussing toddler video of the two young men goading the toddler into repeating obscenities, resulted in the toddler and his teen mom being placed into state care, along with the mother’s 12- and 15-year-old siblings, CNN reports.
What an awful mess.
Gang issues aside, toddlers being goaded into behaviors that would be inappropriate for an adult have become so common online that I believe this is more a case of bad “punking” than bad parenting.
Many people view a child swearing or performing some rude adult behavior hilarious.
I thank my lucky stars that we lived disconnected aboard a sailboat and without a video camera during the stage when our first two boys each failed to correctly pronounce the words "dump truck." I'll let you guess how they mispronounced that second word.
Many adult parents choose to post their cussing kids on video making this same mistake or repeating off-color remarks they have overheard an adult exclaim.
What many of these videos demonstrate is that it’s a dangerously short distance between accidental swearing and turning a toddler into a parrot who cusses like a sailor. And there are plenty more with parents proudly coaching their kids to recite obscenities.
Seeing the videos, I could not help but groan at the memory of our son Avery, now 14, who could not say the word "sit" properly as a toddler. It rhymed with "sit," but he kept slurring the the first syllable.
“Grandma, I wanna sit in your lap,” came right out in church one Sunday, at the top of his lungs, flooring the congregation and sending the alter boys into fits of giggles.
Therefore, I am grateful not to have been a young mom with cellphone toting contemporaries in the house.
There are so many hilarious moments involving kids and language errors that parents can post without profanity providing the punch line.
In 2008, when my son Avery was seven, we had the privileged of meeting Mr. Linkletter when he visited our city on a book tour for “How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life.”
Afterward, I got to sit down with him and chat a while. I told him some stories of my own childhood bloopers and those of my four sons.
Linkletter winked and said, "Kids are the mirror we should look into more often. You're lucky to have so many. You'll never miss an angle!"
If we want our kids to grow up to be funny in a positive and endearing way, like Linkletter was aiming to do, then we need to take a hard look at how these videos reflect on us as parents.
Celebrate and commemorate in video the best of what children do, or risk not being able to face yourself in the mirror when they are grown.